Family opens up about fire that killed infant girl

Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 03, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-03 18:35:52-04

STAFFORD, VA (WTVR) -- Eleanor Mae Avery, just six-months-old, was killed Monday when her rural Stafford home burned to the ground.

Family members said the fire began outside on the porch, and was noticed by Eleanor's mom Naomi. While Naomi Avery was able to get two of her children out of the house, she was unable to go back inside to save young Eleanor.

"Our lives changed forever on Monday with the death of our sweet little Eleanor Mae," the family wrote in a statement Wednesday.

For neighbors the ordeal is a harsh reality check of life in rural sections of the Commonwealth.

The Stafford Fire Department describes where the Avery's live as one of the most rural in the County.

"As a mother of three myself I can't imagine the pain and anguish they must be feeling," Natalie Bailey, a neighbor said.

No official cause has been determined other than it was accidental. The Stafford Fire Department told CBS 6 it was not caused by a burning cigarette.

Friends of the Avery family set up a PayPal account to raise money for the family. The money would go toward burial costs and to help the family get back on their feet, the Avery Family Fire Relief Facebook page indicated.

A public memorial service for Eleanor Mae Avery will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 20 Boscobel Road, in Fredericksburg at 9 a.m. on Saturday April 5. 

Below is the full statement the family released.

Our family is now beginning the excruciating process of trying to pick ourselves up following this devastating loss. Nevertheless, we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the already incredible outpouring of support from family, dear friends, and this amazing Stafford County community. Healing from an event such as this will take years, but please know that your love and encouragement have buoyed us up, and have given us light during these dark hours.

No parent can fathom the terror of seeing their house go up in flames, knowing a child is trapped inside. Naomi was at home with three of their five children, including Eleanor, when she first noticed the fire. She exhausted every possible option as she rushed to get everyone out of the house, but the flames spread so quickly that Eleanor’s second story room was completely engulfed before Naomi could even reach the stairs. With her heart crushed, she was forced to make a decision no mother should have to make, forsaking Eleanor to get her two older children to safety.

Eleanor was our ‘miracle baby’, and she will remain a fixture in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Our faith in our Father in Heaven, and the knowledge that we will one day be reunited with our baby girl keeps us going, one small step at a time. As Christ’s disciple Paul taught to the Corinthians, even in trial we attempt to “...beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, [and] endureth all things.”

While we gratefully acknowledge and appreciate your prayers, your donations and your tremendous support in our time of need, we also request that members of the media, who thus far have been so very supportive, respect our desire for privacy, that we might grieve, mourn, and heal.